10 top global commodity trading firms: Smart money or bad boys?

The smart money typically are the men behind the curtain. Who are they and what do they do?


2012: Revenue: $236 billion

2011 revenue: $186 billion  

CEO: Ivan Glasenberg (pictured)

Founded: 1974 by Marc Rich as Marc Rich & Co. 

Headquarters: Baar, Switzerland.

Focus: Despite having significant coal, metal and oil assets, Glencore revenues are dominated by trading activities as the company had total revenues of $186 billion in 2011, of which trading brought in around $172 billion, including $115 billion in energy trading, $43 billion in metals and minerals trading and $13.7 billion in agriculture trading. It is both a producer and marketer, and in May 2013 finalized its merger, or more accurately, takeover of Xstrata, the multi-billion dollar mining company.  From Foreign Policy magazine, when Glencore went public last year, its IPO revealed: “The company controlled more than half the international tradable market in zinc and copper and about a third of the world's seaborne coal; was one of the world's largest grain exporters, with about 9 percent of the global market; and handled 3 percent of daily global oil consumption for customers ranging from state-owned energy companies in Brazil and India to American multinationals like ExxonMobil and Chevron.” 

Bad behavior: Born of infamous commodity trader Marc Rich, Glencore always has been attached to troubling rumors, including allegations of kickbacks for Iraqi oil to doing business in apartheid South Africa to contributing to serious pollution in Zambia as well as working with known dictators around the globe who would make a deal. It even has as its interim chairman during the Xstrata integration Tony Hayward, who headed up British Petroleum during its massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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